Judge Franck Tabouring once got trapped in a rabbit cage. It felt like hell as well.
Our reviews of WWE: Hell in a Cell 2009 (published November 18th, 2009), WWE: Hell in a Cell 2010 (published December 18th, 2010), and WWE: Hell in a Cell 2011 (published December 10th, 2011) are also available.
It's the most demonic structure in WWE!
Every time the big steel cell swallows the wrestling ring, you know you're in for a brutal show filled with bloody violence. WWE: Hell in a Cell looks back at eleven years of hardcore wrestling, providing fans with fourteen intense matches during which the industry's toughest athletes show off their skills and prove their endurance.
Facts of the Case
Are you ready to wrestle? Here's what this collection has to offer:
Host Mick Foley kicks off this three-disc edition with a quick speech about the creation of what is often called the devil's playground, or hell in a cell. Then it's right into the action with the first of fourteen matches.
• Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at Badd Blood in 1997
This is just the kind of solid wrestling entertainment we should be seeing more often these days. This first Hell in a Cell match between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels certainly delivers the goods, following both athletes as they go head to head in and around the ring. At 32 minutes, this is a long but brutal battle, complete with plenty of hard blows, strong kicks, and some crazy moves in and around the big steel cage. Heck, Michaels even takes out a cameraman. Yep, nostalgia kicks in here, and we're off to a great start.
• Steve Austin and Undertaker vs. Mankind and Kane at Raw
Clocking in at about four minutes, this is probably the shortest Hell in a Cell matchup ever. Still, while the battle takes an unexpected turn early on and most of the fighting takes place outside the cage, it's still more entertaining than a lot of matches we get to see today.
• Undertaker vs. Mankind at King of The Ring in 1998
What's special about this one? Well, for one, Mankind starts the match on top of the cell, which means someone's definitely flying all the way down to the floor. While the battle starts strong and slows down a little later, Undertaker and Mankind both show their willingness to engage in a brutal battle in order to offer their audiences a darn entertaining show.
• Mankind vs. Kane at Raw in 1998
At nine minutes, this is another short match—but it's certainly not boring. No matter the influence of writers in the development of the match, I always admired Mankind for "volunteering" to take in so much pain. This battle is yet another example of his crazy endurance, with Kane hitting him with plenty of strong blows, power bombs, and tombstones. An unsurprising but amusing twist brings this matchup to a satisfying conclusion.
• Triple H vs. Cactus Jack at No Way Out in 2000
This is still one of my favorite Hell in a Cell matches of all time. Clicking in at 24 intense minutes, this bloody battle follows Triple H and Cactus Jack as they both deliver a first-class wrestling show. Fans of brutal matchup will get their money's worth, as both athletes are not afraid to climb the steel cage and literally take the action to the next level. Additionally, the championship title and Jack's career are on the line.
• Kurt Angle vs. Rikishi vs. The Rock vs. Undertaker vs. Triple H
vs. Steve Austin at Armageddon in 2000
Wow. I've often criticized WWE writers for setting up lame matches that either last too long, are too short or end with a weak twist, but this crazy battle deserves some praise. The six-man Hell in a Cell matchup may not be the best ever, but it is one of the bloodiest and most violent. Lasting for 32 minutes, these six heavyweight wrestlers take the fighting all around the arena, making use of everything they can find to kick some butt. Especially Steve Austin and The Rock deliver some great finishers, while Triple H and Undertaker use plenty of punches to weaken their opponents. This is certainly one to remember. And that concludes Disc One of this set.
• Triple H vs. Chris Jericho at Judgment Day in 2002
Disc Two jumps ahead in time. It's 2002, and the Game faces Y2J in the threatening steel cell. This is the first match of this collection that didn't quite convince me. Triple H and Chris Jericho fail to keep this battle engaging enough, opting instead for standard moves and kicks that are more monotonous than entertaining. Surprises are scarce as well in this mediocre 24-minute match.
• Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar at No Mercy in 2002
Brock Lesnar tries his best to show of his abilities in this 27-minute matchup, but he simply doesn't have a solid enough gimmick to compete in this kind of match. This one is definitely too long and rather boring, despite the Undertaker's attempts of keeping the action at a high level. From a technical point of view it's certainly not a bad match, but the hardcore we've seen in previous Hell in a Cell battles is missing.
• Kevin Nash vs. Triple H at Bad Blood in 2003
It may not be the most intense match, but it's more entertaining than the previous two, primarily because of the variety of fighting between Triple H and Kevin Nash. Mick Foley is on board as special guest referee, which means this battle concludes with quite a few predictable but enjoyable twists. No one has the guts to climb the cell this time, but that doesn't slow down the 20-minute match for the WWE championship.
• Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H at Bad Blood in 2004
Although it won't go down in history as the best Hell in a Cell, it certainly will be remembered as the longest. Yes, the battle between Michaels and Triple H really lasts for 45 minutes! It's a little too long for my taste, but I openly admit it's not the most dragging one in this collection. Both wrestlers inject this match with a lot of variable moves, starting off strong, slowing down a bit in the middle and wrapping it up with a great deal of finishers and violent, hardcore action. That's it for Disc Two. Moving on…
• Batista vs. Triple H at Vengeance in 2005
Hang in there with me, wrestling fans, we only have four more to go. Strangely enough, these last four matches are pretty much the weakest you'll find on these three discs. Triple H's battle against Batista is a passable one, although neither athlete offers viewers anything they haven't seen yet in a Hell of a Cell match. This one is a little monotonous, although not totally boring. And why doesn't anyone climb to the top of the cell anymore? That was always enjoyable to watch.
• Undertaker vs. Randy Orton at Armageddon in 2005
Nothing special going on here, although the quality of the wrestling between these two top stars is certainly passable. I would have probably enjoyed this one a little more had I not watched eleven Hell in a Cell matches before, but it's not a bad battle. Orton really proves he's got what it takes to entertain an audience in a match against the popular Dead Man.
• Shawn Michaels and Triple H (as DX) vs. Shane McMahon, Vince
McMahon, and Big Show in a Handicap Match at Unforgiven in 2006
I was convinced this one would suck big time, but as it turns out, I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Indeed, whoever planned or wrote this one up was in a good mood, because the result is pretty hilarious and highly entertaining. Oh, and it sure is disgusting at times as well. Michaels and Triple H obviously make a great team, and the McMahons obviously don't. That said, Shane delivers some impressive moves here. It's all a ridiculous show, but it's entertaining for the whole 25 minutes.
• Undertaker vs. Batista at Survivor Series in 2007
And that almost bring this show to a close. Undertaker wraps it up in a fight against the Animal. The matchup starts off well and both wrestlers deliver a solid show, until a pretty lame twist concludes this one after 22 minutes.
Here are some general words about this set. Most of these matches are really worth the investment, and if you're a wrestling fan and you enjoy violent hardcore matches, you should give it a try. Besides the battles, wrestling legend Mick Foley also adds a little history and commentary, which serve as a great transition between the matchups and make this one an excellent WWE collection.
The Hell in a Cell DVDs provide decent enough audio and video transfers. The picture during some of the earlier matches looks a little grainy, but that's perfectly understandable considering they took place a decade ago. The sound is passable, but the commentaries by J.R. and his gang are often harder to understand because the cheering of the fans tends to be louder than everything else. The technical aspects of these three discs work just fine.
Special features are completely absent, but I admit they are not really necessary. A few comments from other wrestlers about their Hell in a Cell experiences would have been nice, but considering the large number of long matches in this set, the lack of a bonus section is not a disaster.
Diehard WWE fans should enjoy this collection without a problem.
Bloody and violent, but not guilty.
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